The trucking industry has suffered the loss of a true gentleman, Sam Sali, who has passed away at the age of 86. Sam died in hospital in Bendigo earlier this week, surrounded by family and just eight days short of his 87th birthday.
The son of Albanian immigrants who moved to Shepparton in 1937, he completed a motor mechanic apprenticeship before forming trucking company S Sali & Sons in 1956 with late older brother Alan.
He spent many years driving trucks before moving to the management side of the business in the ‘70s and eventually becoming involved in industry advocacy.
Sam and a number of other operators had joined the Long Distance Road Transport Asociation to dispute the Interstate Drivers Award. They felt the LDRTA weren’t doing enough and had decided to form their own organisation,, the National Transport Federation..
“There were four initial members of the NTF, Fred Borg, Sam Sali, Doug Triese and Coz Roccisano, all from Shepparton. It grew to 950 members in four years,” recalled the NTF’s first Executive Director, Paul Gaynor, on an interview.
Less than ten years later the NTF merged with the the LDRTA to become NatRoad in 1994 and Sam served as a director of NatRoad until 2001 and was recognised by it, and the broader industry, with national awards in the following year.
He was a driving force behind the restructuring of the Long Distance Drivers Award and the introduction of enterprise bargaining to the industry.
“Sam Sali was a giant of road transport and a passionate champion for our industry,” said Paul Fellows, NatRoad Chairman. “His passing is a significant loss to us all and our thoughts go to his family and extensive network of friends.”
Sam, Alan and another brother, Haset, are all inductees to the National Road Transport Hall of Fame at Alice Springs.
S Sali & Sons remains in business to this day and prides itself on never accepting clients who demand unreasonable delivery times.
Sam was a recipient of the Rotary Paul Harris Fellow Award for his contribution to his local community and was a life member of the Shepparton Albanian Society.